Suddenly, the music stopped overhead and she was left directionless in a maze of corridors. Andrea stood still and listened to the breeze outside of the big top. There was a breeze outside? But no apparent temperature difference, as the edges of the tent moved in the wind. She wondered how large it must have been, as she was certain she had been walking for at least a mile or so, and had not yet managed to find the main ring and the audience. Her thoughts were interrupted with the sound of distant sniffling, which progressed into low sobbing. Then a low voice. It sounded as if it was coming from behind her, somewhere. There was a metal trolley being moved around against a hard surface, and something scraped against the metal, which made Andrea jump out of her skin. Wherever or whoever this was, she was unconsciously drawing closer to it.
Moving further back down the corridor the muffled sounds became much clearer, a woman crying but seemingly gagged, accompanied by a deep, unnervingly soft laughter. A parting in one side of the tent walls appeared, the interior dimly lit with garish multi-coloured lanterns. Andrea was standing a fair distance back so as not to catch the attention of anyone inside. After two minutes of silent observation, Andrea moved slightly to her right to see if she could make out anyone in the room. A woman, stripped mostly bare, missing both the lower parts of her arms and legs was nailed to a board. Blood had seeped and blossomed out into the board around the stumps. It was a wonder how she was still alive, but some of the wounds had been visibly cauterized by someone. Given the other half of her face was covered by her knotted long hair, Andrea could only see one hollowed out eye socket. One nostril had been stitched up. The back of Andrea's neck prickled at the agonised cries the woman occasionally gave, she sounded and looked truly too exhausted from torture and blood loss to make much noise. The stench of bad blood, smoke, and some kind of chemical or alcohol that emanated made Andrea want to wretch. Then, a silhouette.
Andrea instinctively moved further back in fear. The individual was obscured by shadow and she could not see whether they were facing her. As the person moved into the light, thankfully in the opposite direction to her, she could see he was wielding a pair of very large rusted shears, stained with blood. The back of one of his arms was heavily tattooed with what seemed to be branches and wraiths. A rope was slung around his neck. A mixed mass of dreadlocks and curls topped his head, black, white and green.
Approaching the woman pinned to the wall, he slowly opened and closed the shears which sounded awfully sharp. "Now Nice, why don't you ever respond to your name? They to said give you a nice name".
The man trailed off into resounding laughter, as if he'd had the cleverest idea.
There was the sound of someone else walking in from another opening in the tent walls. The man with the shears disappeared from sight, but Andrea could hear that he and the man that just entered were speaking quietly in German.
"Ja, ich hatte Spaß mit ihr zuvor, fühlen Sie sich frei, um eine Wende zu nehmen."
"Nein, wissen Sie, was ich für gekommen. Gebe Tabak was er will und ich werde das Geschenk Für Sie hinterlassen".
There was the sound of something swishing around in a container. The second person sounded distinctively higher pitched and seedier sounding, and as the two walked back into plain sight, Andrea could see he carried an accordion with a monkey sat on top. It was clothed in a torn, striped top, and part of its face had gangrene. Much to her surprise, the monkey grinned and laughed at Nice, before bellowing in a deep voice, "Ich will deine verdammte Wimpern!".
The organ grinder looked to the man with the shears, who was now wholly visible in the eerie multicoloured light. A clown, with black and white facepaint to match his hair, a line of stitches going right across his face from the top of his cheeks, over the bridge of his nose. His eyes were glazed over, glowing white as if he had gone blind, but he seemed very aware of his surroundings. Bright green waistcoat, with what looked to be alchemical symbols crudely stitched and dyed into the fabric, black and white shirt underneath with one of the arms torn away. Mismatched pants, stuffed into very worn combat boots. The clown snapped the shears shut, and picked up a small knife from the table next to him.
"Passen Sie sich. Es ist zu gewinnen Sieg für mich.".
The organ grinder sneered at this statement. Turning around to Nice, she desperately tried to dislodge herself from the wall. Andrea wondered if she could understand what they were saying to be panicking so violently. Wielding the knife close to her eyes, as Nice shook her head left and right, the man got a firm grip from the back of her neck and tilted her head upwards. He pulled the eyelid away from her good eye with one hand, and quickly pierced it with the small knife. Nice quivered in pain and her eye streamed with tears.
"Don't move now, or I might take out your eye too!" the clown said gleefully, slicing away until the lid was almost completely removed.
Andrea, so engrossed in the trauma of the situation, dropped the key she was holding, immediately drawing the attention of Nice. She raised her head and gasped painfully beneath the gag, looking at her. "Help me".
Her remaining undamaged eye was accidentally stabbed out as the clown looked around to who she was pleading at. Andrea attempted to flee but the corridors which had previously outstretched in opposite directions had shrank as she wasn't paying attention to them, leaving her enclosed by tent walls. The clown quickly injected Nice with a strange luminescent green injection, and threw a dirtied sheet of cloth over her as she rapidly faded into unconsciousness. The clown bounced towards Andrea, who was still frozen to the spot, and began ushering her into the foul smelling clown torture chamber.
"I've been expecting you. Don't mind her. So, you're our newest member?"
Copyright Abigail Lewis May 2014
Copyright Abigail Lewis May 2014